Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects around 1.2% of the population (almost 750,000 people in the UK).[1] The world health organisation listed OCD as one of the top ten most debilitating illnesses due to the decreased quality of life that this condition sadly causes.

What is OCD?

OCD is an anxiety related condition in which the sufferers experience repetitive, unwelcome thoughts, images or urges (obsessions) and then try to cope with these and the anxiety that they may cause by performing certain routines and rituals (compulsions).

Sufferers are usually aware that their thoughts are irrational which leads to further discomfort or fear.

OCD ranges from mild to severe. If OCD has a negative effect on life such as with relationships or work then help should be sought, there are effective treatments available.

Examples of Obsessions

  • Fears of contamination through germs and bacteria
  • Frightening thoughts of catastrophe e.g. house burning down
  • Images of harming loved ones
  • Worries about safety or order

Examples of Compulsions

  • Excessive hand washing or showering
  • Constantly checking locks or that the cooker is off
  • Hiding away knives or other potentially harmful things
  • Constantly lining up tins in the cupboard or checking papers
  • Persistently ruminating

Who gets OCD?

OCD often develops in childhood, although often goes undiagnosed or treated for years. It affects both men and women equally.

What causes OCD?

The cause of OCD is unknown, though genetic links have been discovered. It is thought that reduced Serotonin levels, which regulate anxiety, may have something to do with it. It is possible that stressful situations or traumatic life experiences can bring on or heighten the symptoms of OCD.

Treatment Available

Treatment for OCD is very successful and sufferers can go on to lead completely normal lives. Unfortunately, OCD can sometimes be mistaken for depression, which, rather than being the cause, is the result of OCD.

The most successful treatment for OCD, also recommended by NICE guidelines,[2] is CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Group therapy can also be very useful. Therapy is usually done on an outpatient basis.

Medication, usually SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) is also used in the treatment of OCD, this works best in combination with CBT.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may require help and advice please call the Via Clinic on 01372 363939

[1] OCD – UK (Charity) ocduk.org.uk
[2] Nice.org.uk

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